Real Madrid star Karim Benzema said emulating Zinedine Zidane and the Brazilian Ronaldo by winning the Ballon d’Or would fulfil a childhood dream.
The Frenchman is among the 30 players who were shortlisted for the award earlier this month and is confident he can follow in the footsteps of two of his idols, both of whom preceded him at the Santiago Bernabeu
‘Win the Ballon d’Or? Yes, that would be one of the many dreams I have had since childhood,’ Benzema told French broadcaster Canal+.
‘Of course I dreamed of it as a kid.
‘My idols, whether it’s R9 [Ronaldo] or Zizou [Zidane], they came to Real Madrid and won the Ballon d’Or.
‘And that’s one of the little things I think about. Today, I’m not far from it.’
Ronaldo won the Ballon d’Or in 1997 after his solitary season with Barcelona and added a second five years later in recognition for his stellar performances at the 2002 World Cup.
Zidane, meanwhile, scooped up the accolade in 1998 following a stellar campaign in which he won Serie A with Juventus and scored twice in France’s World Cup final triumph over Brazil.
The Frenchman moved to the Bernabeu in the summer of 2001 and was joined by Ronaldo a year later.
Benzema won two LaLiga titles and three Champions Leagues while playing under Zidane at Real Madrid, and the latter believes his compatriot deserves to be recognised when the winner is announced in Paris on November 29.
‘We are talking about a player who deserves to win this Ballon d’Or,’ Zidane told Telefoot.
‘He’s an incredible player, I had the great honor of coaching him.
‘He associates easily with others.
‘He knows how to do everything in the field. I hope he can be rewarded with this Ballon d’Or.’
Benzema finished as LaLiga’s second-most prolific goalscorer last season with 24 goals – the second-highest tally since he joined Real in 2009 – and has started the current campaign on the front foot.
He leads LaLiga in goals and assists and scored in both the semifinal and final of the UEFA Nations League as France ended up lifting the trophy.